United States District Court, E.D. California
STEVEN E. STANLEY, JR., Plaintiff,
CALIFORNIA MEDICAL FACILITY, et al., Defendant.
M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has consented to
Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c) and no other party has been served or appeared in the
action. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or
portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2)
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or
(3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).
Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that
complaints contain a “short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This means that claims must be stated
simply, concisely, and directly. See McHenry v.
Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (referring to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e)(1)). These rules are satisfied if the
complaint gives the defendant fair notice of the
plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests.
See Kimes v. Stone, 84 F.3d 1121, 1129 (9th Cir.
1996). Because plaintiff must allege with at least some
degree of particularity overt acts by specific defendants
which support the claims, vague and conclusory allegations
fail to satisfy this standard. Additionally, it is impossible
for the court to conduct the screening required by law when
the allegations are vague and conclusory.
complaint, plaintiff alleges that he had a lower bunk chrono
due to his back and hip problems. The claims defendant
McAllister took away his lower bunk chrono, apparently due to
a computer error, and he was reassigned to an upper bunk.
While trying to climb up on the upper bunk, plaintiff fell
and injured his arm. Three days later, his lower bunk chrono
treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions
under which the prisoner is confined are subject to scrutiny
under the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual
punishment. See Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 31
(1993); Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994).
The Eighth Amendment “embodies broad and idealistic
concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and
decency.” Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102
(1976). Conditions of confinement may, however, be harsh and
restrictive. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337,
347 (1981). Nonetheless, prison officials must provide
prisoners with “food, clothing, shelter, sanitation,
medical care, and personal safety.” Toussaint v.
McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1107 (9th Cir. 1986). A prison
official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two
requirements are met: (1) objectively, the official's act
or omission must be so serious such that it results in the
denial of the minimal civilized measure of life's
necessities; and (2) subjectively, the prison official must
have acted unnecessarily and wantonly for the purpose of
inflicting harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Thus,
to violate the Eighth Amendment, a prison official must have
a “sufficiently culpable mind.” See id.
indifference to a prisoner's serious illness or injury,
or risks of serious injury or illness, gives rise to a claim
under the Eighth Amendment. See Estelle, 429 U.S. at
105; see also Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. This applies
to physical as well as dental and mental health needs.
See Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1253 (9th Cir.
1982). An injury or illness is sufficiently serious if the
failure to treat a prisoner's condition could result in
further significant injury or the “unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain.” McGuckin v. Smith,
974 F.2d 1050, 1059 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Doty v.
County of Lassen, 37 F.3d 540, 546 (9th Cir. 1994).
Factors indicating seriousness are: (1) whether a reasonable
doctor would think that the condition is worthy of comment;
(2) whether the condition significantly impacts the
prisoner's daily activities; and (3) whether the
condition is chronic and accompanied by substantial pain.
See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131-32 (9th Cir.
2000) (en banc).
requirement of deliberate indifference is less stringent in
medical needs cases than in other Eighth Amendment contexts
because the responsibility to provide inmates with medical
care does not generally conflict with competing penological
concerns. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at 1060. Thus,
deference need not be given to the judgment of prison
officials as to decisions concerning medical needs. See
Hunt v. Dental Dep't, 865 F.2d 198, 200 (9th Cir.
1989). The complete denial of medical attention may
constitute deliberate indifference. See Toussaint v.
McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1111 (9th Cir. 1986). Delay in
providing medical treatment, or interference with medical
treatment, may also constitute deliberate indifference.
See Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1131. Where delay is alleged,
however, the prisoner must also demonstrate that the delay
led to further injury. See McGuckin, 974 F.2d at
plaintiff alleges his lower bunk chrono was taken away due to
a computer error. Plaintiff does not state how long he was
required to endure the upper bunk assignment, or what was
attempted to resolve the error, if anything. There is also no
indication in the complaint that Dr. McAllister acted in a
deliberately indifferent manner toward plaintiff's needs.
It appears that the lower bunk chono was reinstated shortly
after it was revoked. The facts as alleged fail to provide
sufficient detail to show Dr. McAllister was deliberately
indifferent to plaintiff's medical needs. However,
plaintiff will be provided an opportunity to file an amended
complaint in an attempt to state facts sufficient to state a
defendant the California Medical Facility, there are no
factual allegations against the facility at all, and the
Eleventh Amendment provides protection against the
institution. The Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts
from hearing suits brought against a state both by its own
citizens, as well as by citizens of other states. See
Brooks v. Sulphur Springs Valley Elec. Coop., 951 F.2d
1050, 1053 (9th Cir. 1991). This prohibition extends to suits
against states themselves, and to suits against state
agencies. See Lucas v. Dep't of Corr., 66 F.3d
245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); Taylor v.
List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). A state's
agency responsible for incarceration and correction of
prisoners is a state agency for purposes of the Eleventh
Amendment. See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782
(1978) (per curiam); Hale v. Arizona, 993 F.2d 1387,
1398-99 (9th cir. 1993) (en banc). As such, the California
Medical Facility will be dismissed from this action.
it is possible that the deficiencies in plaintiff's claim
against defendant McAllister may be cured by amending the
complaint, plaintiff is entitled to leave to amend prior to
dismissal of the entire action. See Lopez v. Smith,
203 F.3d 1122, 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).
Plaintiff is informed that, as a general rule, an amended
complaint supersedes the original complaint. See Ferdik
v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). Thus,
following dismissal with leave to amend, all claims alleged
in the original complaint which are not alleged in the
amended complaint are waived. See King v. Atiyeh,
814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987). Therefore, if plaintiff
amends the complaint, the court cannot refer to the prior
pleading in order to make plaintiffs amended complaint
complete. See Local Rule 220. An amended complaint
must be complete in itself without reference to any prior
pleading. See id.
plaintiff chooses to amend the complaint, plaintiff must
demonstrate how the conditions complained of have resulted in
a deprivation of plaintiff s constitutional rights. See
Ellis v. Cassidy, 625 F.2d 227 (9th Cir. 1980). The
complaint must allege in specific terms how each named
defendant is involved, and must set forth some affirmative
link or connection between each defendant's actions and
the claimed ...